Yes, Hillary

For the 10 percent of voters who’ve yet to make up their minds, and facing a Hobson’s choice, here is a way to rationalize checking the box for Hillary Clinton.

Clearly, both Clinton and Donald Trump are seriously flawed candidates.

Clinton is an elitist, full of hubris, and has left a long trail of ethical lapses. Whether stealing furnishings when she left the White House in 2000, or not recognizing conflicts of interest with her private email server or the Clinton Foundation, Clinton fudges the lines.

And Trump? It’s legitimate to wonder how anyone can vote for a rich-boy, megalomaniac, sexual predator who doesn’t pay taxes and welches on commitments to charities.

Setting aside their disturbing personal attributes and partisan politics, the choices look different when the race is framed as establishment and the haves versus the outliers and the have-nots.

Clinton represents the establishment and the haves, as did the 15 Republican primary challengers Trump vanquished. Trump, of course, represents the outliers and have-nots, as did Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump’s brand of antiestablishmentarianism is troubling because it is based on fear and false premises of how things work.

Most obvious is his use of falsehoods to appeal to white, displaced, working-class men.

Industrial production in this country is at the highest level ever and twice what it was in the 1980s. An example of how this can be is a new refrigerator plant opened by GE in Kentucky a few years ago. It takes a total of two man-hours to make a fridge. The rest of the work, of course, is automated.

Millions of manufacturing jobs are not coming back. The textile mills on the Merrimack are not coming back. The paper mills in Berlin and Maine are not coming back. Even the newspaper industry, which has shed 40,000 jobs in the past 15 years, is not coming back.

The answer is not to give false hope, like Trump, but acknowledge the truth. We have a shortage of skilled workers, not jobs, and the challenge is to retrain or relocate people whose jobs are lost forever.

The alternative to fear is to punt till 2020, and vote for steady-as-she-goes (pun intended). Flaws and all, Clinton embodies the establishment and a steady hand. Trump represents a brand of antiestablishment that is dangerous.

A speech writer for George W. Bush, David Fraum, coined the term “Axis of Evil.” This is how he justified his vote for Clinton.

“This country is not so broken as to allow a President Trump to arrest opponents or silence the media. Trump is a man without political ideas. Trump’s main interest has been and will continue to be self-enrichment by any means, no matter how crooked.

“Your hand may hesitate to put a mark beside the name, Hillary Clinton. You’re not doing it for her. The vote you cast is for the republic and the Constitution.”

Colin Van Ostern for Governor 

Former governor John H. Sununu served before our time, but we enthusiastically endorsed his son, John E. Sununu, both as a congressman and a senator.

So it would be natural to support Chris, the latest Sununu to enter politics, particularly because as operator of Waterville Valley Resort he is in an industry that is near and dear to us.

There are, however, more compelling reasons that tilts us toward Colin Van Ostern for governor.

First is balance. It’s been classic sausage making, but the state government is in good financial shape, in no large part because of forced compromises made between the Republican-dominated Legislature and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Though strained, we believe a bipartisan relationship between the Legislature and the corner office results in good governance.

Second, expanded Medicaid.

Republicans, including Sununu, want to end expanded Medicaid, and, while they talk about “the New Hampshire way,”  the fact is none of them offers concrete plans to replace what Medicaid provides, medical coverage to 47,000 New Hampshire residents.

Equally important, expanded Medicaid brings a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government that offsets uncompensated costs incurred by hospitals and the state.

Jeb Bradley for State Senate

In 25 years of covering politics, we know no more effective legislator than incumbent state senator and Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.

A master at working across party lines, his weighty list of accomplishments includes sponsoring a bill that overhauled the state’s pension system. As an avid hiker he was a moving force in creating the Wild River Wilderness and expanding the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

His biggest accomplishment, however, may be the aforementioned expansion of Medicaid. He was a key player in creating the compromise that led to the Legislature accepting Medicaid with a provision that requires reauthorization in 2018.

His opponent, Democrat John White, will be familiar to readers of The Boston Globe. Now retired, he reviewed cars.  A good person, no doubt, but not a powerful legislator.

Joe Kenney for executive council

In the race between incumbent Republican Joe Kenney and Democrat Mike Cryans we endorse Kenney for his excellent constituent service.

As a very conservative Republican we disagree with Kenney on most major issues, but fortunately, serving on the executive council is largely about constituent service. And since he was elected two years ago, Kenney has capably filled the shoes of his predecessor, legendary Ray Burton.

District 1 is large geographically and includes Hanover, where Cryans resides.

Hanover, of course, has little in common with Conway, and it is unlikely Cryans, or anyone from the other side of the state, could tend to business here better than Kenney has.

County and Rep Races

There is not a lot of glory in being a state representative. At $100 a year stipend, it doesn’t pay much, so it is with respect and admiration that we view all the candidates as they demonstrate a willingness to serve our communities in a way most of us do not.

Nonetheless, choices have to be made, and although rep races are very partisan, we put a high value on personal qualities and a willingness to work bipartisanly. Moreover, we favor incumbents. In a huge Legislature of 400 members like New Hampshire’s, it takes time to learn the ropes and gain standing.  

District 1

Serving the towns of Bartlett, Hart’s Location and Jackson, we endorse incumbent Republican Gene Chandler over Democrat Erik Corbett.  He’s as practical a conservative as there is, and as a former Speaker of the House, when he talks others are influenced.

District 2

Three seats are up serving Conway, Chatham, Eaton and Hale’s Location. All the incumbents, Democrat Tom Buco, and Republicans Frank McCarthy and Karen Umberger, though miles apart in style and philosophies, serve these towns with distinction and effectiveness. Challengers Bill Cuccio, Syndi White and Sean Carney will have to wait until one of them vacates.

District 3

Representing the towns of Albany, Freedom, Madison and Tamworth are Democrat Susan Ticehurst and Republican Mark McConkey. The challenger, Democrat Jerry Knirk, has made it clear he is challenging McConkey, not Ticehurst.   

McConkey and Ticehurst are different like salt and pepper, but together, work well for the district. A business guy, McConkey works on economic issues like improving Route 16 through Albany with wider shoulders and rumblestrips, while Ticehurst invests her time on human services. A retired physician, Knirk would no doubt be an excellent rep, but with only two seats, we like McConkey and Ticehurst.

District 7 (floterial)

One seat covers Albany, Bartlett, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, Freedom, Hart’s Location, Jackson, Madison and Tamworth. Democrat Ed Butler is the incumbent and Republican Norm Tregenza is his bi-annual challenger.  

New to the race is John Skelton. No two candidates are more partisan than Butler and Tregenza, and we like
Skelton’s level-headed approach he has demonstrated as a member of the Conway School Board. A vote for Skelton is a vote to tone down the partisanship.  

County commissioner

At the county level, two of three seats are open on the county commission. Followers of county government know it’s been a financial and procedural mess in Ossipee. Fortunately, there are two excellent candidates, Mark Hounsell, who is challenged by Bert Weiss, and Chip Albee, challenged by Amanda Bevard.

Hounsell, of course, has a long history in state and local government. He brings decades of institutional wisdom, but if nothing else will adhere to the rules of governance and run proper meetings.

Albee, a Democrat, was swept out of office during a Republican tsunami six years ago, the very same year he was honored with the state’s Commissioner of the Year award for shepherding through the construction of the new county nursing home.

Ayotte, Your Most Important Vote

The Senate race between incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan is not only New Hampshire’s highest profile race, but the most important.

Here’s why voters have no higher civic obligation Tuesday than to return Ayotte to office.

• Integrity and independence are relative terms in politics, but despite her gaffe of pointing to Donald Trump as a “role model,” Ayotte has disavowed both him and Republican Rep. Frank Guinta. Give credit where credit is due. When is the last time a major candidate of either party has publicly thrown under the bus two candidates in his or her own party for personal, ethical reasons?

• We don’t like shills for either party, and voting for Hassan is a vote for a Democratic rubber stamp. Governors in New Hampshire famously have little power, but even by our state’s standards, Hassan has little to show for her two terms in office.  

We respect and admire Hassan so have no interest in trashing her, but her record is largely partisan. For more on this, read the endorsements supporting Ayotte by the Portsmouth Herald and Nahsua Telegraph, newspapers that historically support Democrats.

• Ayotte is ranked as the 11th most bipartisan U.S. senator, and has effectively teamed with  Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on funding the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and securing Pease as the site for the next generation of refueling airplanes.  She also was the first Senate Republican to support the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

• Ayotte represents a trifecta in keeping New Hampshire relevant in national politics.

New Hampshire is an important swing state. Our state has outsized importance in national politics, and with senators representing both parties, we would continue to show the rest of country how government can work bi-partisanly and effectively.

Hillary Clinton is likely to be the next president, and it is important as a counterweight that the Senate remain in Republican majority. In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt defeated Kansas’ Gov. Alfred Landon in 46 of the 48 states, thereby creating the jest, “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.”  In a nod to that election, conservative columnist George Will writes, “As New Hampshire goes, so goes the Senate.”

She has star power. Ayotte has that intangible quality that sets her apart from most politicians. She is smart and tough, down to earth, comfortable in her skin and values, and has a natural inclination to work collegially.  Just 48, she will be on the short list for vice presidential or president nominees.

In the New Hampshire tradition of moderate conservativism, Ayotte is an acolyte of former Senate giants Warren Rudman and Judd Gregg. She is a special candidate, for a special state, at a special time in history.